Located at almost 4,000 metres above sea level in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, Gyantse is a small town on an ancient trade route between Tibet and India. The town has a colourful history that includes being the centre of resistance against British invasion in the early 20th century.
Gyantse is famed for its dzong which is one of the most impressive and best preserved in the region. A dzong is a type of fortress that is found throughout Tibet and Bhutan. They traditionally serve as a religious and administrative centre for their region. The Gyantse Dzong was built in the 1400s on a large hill overlooking the high Tibetan plains. It has survived turbulent times, including the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, and still stands, overlooking the same plains that it has for many centuries.
Another wonderful and spectacular sight is Palcho Monastery. Built in the 1400s by the second Prince of Gyantse, it combines architectural influences from Nepalese, Tibetan and Han styles. Within the monastery is the very famous stupa, in Tibet known as a Kumbum. The Kumbum is thought to be the largest in the Tibetan region, and thus one of the most important.
For natural beauty, nearby at 5020 metres above sea level is the magnificent sight of the gigantic Karola glacier flowing gracefully down the mountain, with the backdrop of giant boulders and cliffs soaring as far as the eye can see.
Due to its political sensitivity, the Tibetan Autonomous Region requires a special permit to visit, which we are very experienced at organizing. Accommodation in Gyantse is basic, but the stunning location more than makes up for this. A night or two in Gyantse is highly recommended – spending time here taking in the sights and the unique, charming atmosphere is a marvelous experience.
Gyantse combines wonderfully with a tailormade tour of the wider Tibet region. Overland travel by road can be long, but the breathtaking views make the journey very pleasurable. No visit to Tibet can be complete without a visit to Lhasa. We would also recommend a visit to Tsedang and Shigatse. All are within reach of each other by road.
The best time of year for a tailormade tour of Tibet is April, May or September, when the weather conditions should be fine. This is also a perfect time to visit the rest of China, meaning that travel in Tibet and the wider Middle Kingdom combines extremely well.
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